In this time of economic recession, the University and the Students’ Assocation are appropriately reviewing current energy usage. UR has been proactive in cutting back on expenditures for example, Facilities has dropped temperatures in academic buildings. This is projected to save $65,000 annually. Another area where the University can save money, however, is in reducing energy usage in unoccupied buildings overnight.
Facilities and student government are also surveying wasteful light usage. Many buildings on the River Campus have lights on long after the occupants have left. In the Simon School of Business, lights and televisions are left on overnight. In Douglass Dining Center, all of the televisions are left on 24/7, long after the building is usually vacant.
The University annually spends $36 million on energy, and savings can be had by trimming energy use. These successful attempts to reduce energy spending amid the current economic recession can be continued by turning off lights in academic buildings at night via sensors and timers.
According to Richard Pifer, Associate Vice President for University Facilities and Services, the University relies on building occupants to turn off lights. Personal responsibility is important in cutting back waste, and students and employees have taken their own initiatives to limit waste, such as Grassroots’s UR Unplugged. However, relying on personal responsiblity is not enough.
Pifer himself acknowledged it is impractical for the few security officers at night to turn off building lights; installing occupancy sensors and timers is the next most feasible option to cut down energy use. Sensors are an investment. Installing them incurs an initial cost but saves money and electricity in the long run. Because of the expense of installing them, they should be first placed in areas such as academic hallways and dorm lounges.
It will take more than just an awareness campaign to ensure that River Campus buildings do not waste energy. The University tells us to put on a sweater when it drops dorm temperatures and it should reciprocate the sacrifice. In this time of belt tightening, any light or television turned off is a dollar saved.